Ever had the photography blues? Down. Depressed. The kind of feeling that has you thinking you’ll never make a good photo ever again. What can you do to get out of it?
Sometimes it lingers for months. It undermines your confidence. It makes you choose to do something more comfortable. Avoiding, evading, always deeper downwards.
Creativity is one of the most indefinable skills any of us has. For some of us it is more developed than in others, but it is there. Children have it in abundance until it is reasoned out of them by adults.
It comes and goes in cycles, even for the most creative of us, and when the spark isn’t there, nothing happens. Most of the time it is because we are our own worst enemies. We get distracted. We get too busy doing something else, doing something else. We tell ourselves we are not creative. Musicians, artists and writers know what it feels like. So do sports people.
And yet when there is a spark, nothing stops us; images flow into the mind faster than they can be realised; words land on the page at an extraordinary rate; the athlete is on the very peak of her game. This is being “in the zone”, or in a “flow experience”.
It is perfectly normal to have these dips. But how can we get out when we are in one ? The worst thing is to fight. Struggling leads to more of the same mediocrity and deepens the spiral of depression. Doing what you’ve always done gives you more of what you’ve got.
Being creative means letting go. Get out of your own way. Stop comparing yourself to others.
My own work suffers from distraction. Too many things to do. Too many reasons not to be out there. And it doesn’t help that I can’t cook up my light and landscape work to order. What do you need to let go in order to find inspiration afresh?
Here are my ten tips for beating the photography blues :-
- Think about the best things about the best work you have done and concentrate on them – remind yourself of how you FELT when you were doing that best work.
- Look at great books full of pictures, hang out on FLICKR – get inspired.
- Do something new – start a project, try a new form of photography.
- Watch the sky always. Make your own luck.
- Go somewhere new. Go immediately. Drop whatever you are doing and go for it.
- Wherever you are, BE THERE. Immerse yourself in the experience.
- STOP TRYING. The harder you look the less you see.
- Make pictures, loads of them. Things are digital now. Make it a habit.
- Make a note of the things that made you feel good today.
- Show your photos to people; you’ll find praise in abundance.
“In creating, the only hard thing is to begin …” – James Russell Lowell
Re-edited 2009 (original piece written March 2000)